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Ancient horses spotted.

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Prehistoric painters weren't taking artistic license when they painted polka-dotted horses on the walls of a French cave 25,000 years ago. DNA analysis of ancient horse remains from Europe and Siberia suggests that the animals came in bay, black and leopard-spotted at least 16,000 years ago.

Previous genetic studies suggested that horses were either bay or black before domestication, and more elaborate patterns emerged as a result of human breeding. That left many people wondering why dappled horses adorn cave walls in Pech-Merle, France (shown).

In a new study published online November 7 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Arne Ludwig of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin and colleagues report that of 31 horses studied, 18 were bay, seven were black and six carried genetic variants that produce a leopard-spotted pattern.

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Title Annotation:Genes & Cells
Author:Saey, Tina Hesman
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 17, 2011
Words:143
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